Yesterday I marked the 25th anniversary of my brothers death. He was a young man in his prime, 23 years old, he had his life in front of him when one night he took his life. I remember the call from my Dad in the middle of the night. I was stunned and didn’t really process the information. In these circumstances we always want to know why. Anthony was in a relationship at the time and as I understand it he was intoxicated and he had argued with his partner.
My brother Anthony had an unremarkable early childhood it seemed to me but somewhere, something went wrong. He became a young boy who was difficult to parent. His behavior was often challenging. I have no idea how he was at school but I know it was tough. Anthony was a square peg in a round hole. I don’t remember him as being particularly naughty as such but I do remember his temper at times being quite extreme. Anthony was not a scholar, he was a practical man, great with his hands, he would take things apart and sometimes even put them back together. He liked machinery, manual work, and he was creative.
Anthony or An,t and sometimes Tony, he was called spent some time living with other people who attempted to help with his issues. I remember one period where he went into care at a child welfare home. The Old Hamilton Boys Home, I can still see him in the back seat of a two door escort being taken away, a broken, destroyed young man.
Anthony had Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder.I know that for some people that this is a controversial subject, and that some people refuse to believe in such a thing. I merely ask that they walk a mile in someone elses shoes before they pass judgement on something they have little knowledge or experience of.
With ADHD, the incidence or comorbidity of learning disorders and other mental health issues is somewhere around 7 times more frequent than the general public. One of the issues is drug dependency. I know that Anthony was most likely alcoholic. I also know that he probably indulged in some herbal remedies as well. My brother was no angel believe me. He was aware though, he was aware of his own humanity, his faults and his temptations, he was a loyal friend and a loving brother.
In my extended family there seems to be a genetic propensity towards drug addiction. I can think of a number of my family close and extended who daily fight battles with addiction. Some have overcome it, others will not acknowledge it and some others are just entrapped and live with it. this is not a treatise on addiction here, I just want to tell his story.
Anthony was a good looking young man, a bit of a bad boy who was popular with the girls, but he was a troubled man. I found out later that he had talked about suicide but no one had really taken it seriously or so it seemed. He had put a gun in his mouth before apparently. When I found this out I was outraged that no one had told me. The cone of silence had descended on that behaviour. I was also extremely angry with Anthony, he was living in Wellington at the time of his death, but all he needed to do was to ring, I was only 6 or 7 hours away, I would have gone to him in a heart beat.
Suicide like all early deaths is tragic, it leaves deep and painful scars it broke my dad, I noticed the affect it had on him. I was reflecting the other day that I didn’t really notice how it affected my mum. I suspect just as severely really. We often tend to blame ourselves in these situations and I am sure that my dad did, but the truth of the matter is that it was Anthony who pulled the trigger on that fateful night. No matter his brain was affected with alcohol and whatever else was eating at him.
I remember as we took him to the church and I stood with him before the service, his girlfriend had written a letter to him and placed it in his coffin, I was so tempted to read it as I wanted to know what had happened, but I knew it would not be right.
I have my suspicions about some of the inner demons that ate at Anthony, There is a sad legacy of sexual abuse that haunts our family, not I hasten to add from my within my immediate family. Abuse is such a destroying thing, and the shame and inner turmoil that accompanies it is debilitating and destroying. I won’t talk about that in this post except to say that it is a terrible blight on any family, and is only excised by light.
My sister remarked yesterday that she wondered how he would have turned out over the years, to me he remains an irascible, irrepressible and sometimes irresponsible ratbag, with a generous heart,,an engaging smile and he loved a great party. He was a bloody ratbag at times as well. Anthony also had a faith, he had a belief in God a quiet conviction that he did not share with everybody for sure.
Anthony is my Brother, I miss him and was privileged to know and love him. I don’t want to labour the point except to say that there is always someone who can help….If you read this and need to talk you can message me at firstname.lastname@example.org and wherever you are in the world I am sure I can find someone to talk with you, if not me.
Good night and God bless.